Our Boys in France

June 8, 2016

We have 10 players strutting their stuff at the Euro’s, how will they fare?

In a quiet summer where transfer rumours are few and far between we need something to chat about so I suggest we look at the performances of our chaps on a game by game basis.

So, on Friday we have Koscielny and Giroud quickening the pulse playing for France against Romania KO. 20.00 GMT.

Saturday afternoon gives us a view of Granit Xhaka playing for Switzerland against Albania.


The evening entertainment is England’s first game and the chance that Wilshire will start. In my opinion he is head and shoulders England’s best midfielder (name a better one) and must start.

Aaron Ramsey will also be playing on Saturday at 17.00 GMT vs Slovakia. Surely a must win game for Wales.

TPIG is in the squad for Poland on Sunday at 17.00 GMT but I expect Flapianski to start ahead of him.

Mesut Ozil kicks off his campaign against on Sunday night at 20.00 GMT against Ukraine.

Young Hector should start for Spain on Monday at 14.00 GMT against our gloveman Petr Cech who is representing Czech Republic alongside the wonderful Tomas Rosicky.

Luckily, most of our players have not been selected and will hopefully start the season rested and 100% fit. Who knows – it could happen!

written by Big Raddy

Arteta For Spain Call Up

October 10, 2012

This may annoy fellow supporters, but I would really, really like to see Mikel Arteta get a call-up to the Spanish national team.

I understand all the reasons why – in theory – we should NOT want that to happen.

He is one of our few automatic starters and a mainstay of this year’s exciting, new-look Arsenal, so the last thing we want is him going off on international duty and getting kicked up in the air by Olaf Ankelschnapper in a meaningless friendly.

Then there’s the fact that when the rest of the squad goes off to play for their national sides, he gets a nice long break (which is important when we want him, ideally, to start every important game).  While others are having to mingle with pond life like Ashley Cole and Sergio Biscuits, our Mikel can wander round London Colney like a king, attaching jokey notes to other players’ lockers and maybe even finding time to take grapes and flowers to Abou Diaby in the sick bay.

But I have been so impressed with Arteta’s professionalism, intelligence and application since he signed for us that I just feel he deserves national recognition as a reward for what he has brought to the game.

In a sport awash with overpaid, greedy scumbags he stands out as one of the good guys. He is still held in high esteem by his erstwhile fans at Everton and he took a pay cut to join Arsenal. Contrast that with players who almost crash their cars when offered “only” £55,000 a week, or racially abuse their colleagues or spend more time on the front pages of the tabloids than on the back.

Mikel may have impeccably groomed eyebrows and Action Man’s hair, but he is a reminder that there are still players in the game with moral standing.

As Arsene Wenger has pointed out, if Mikel had been born in a different era – or in this era but in a different country – he would probably have close to 100 caps by now.

Certainly England would have loved a player with his class and technique over the last decade.

Spain is currently fortunate to have a group of some of the best midfielders ever to step onto a football pitch. Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso, Busquets and Silva are all literally world class.

Then there are the midfield geniuses of Arsenal Past and Arsenal Present: Cesc Fabregas and Santi Cazorla.

What a collection of talent! And most of them not even tall enough to be allowed on the Nemesis ride at Alton Towers.

However, even with this legion of impossibly gifted Spanish midfielders, surely there must be scope for Mikel to gain a cap or two.

Now that he has cemented the deep-lying “pivot” role for himself at Arsenal, you would think he could do a similar job at national level if, for example, his good friend Xabi Alonso was unavailable.

With his passing accuracy, his composure and his eye for a great ball he would slot seamlessly into the Spanish national side. Indeed, among Europe’s top leagues he is second only to Xavi in his pass completion rate so far this season (Xavi is on 96.3%, Arteta on 93.8%).

Would there be any knock-on benefit to Arsenal if Mikel finally got the call-up? I doubt it. He is such a good professional that he gives his all for us anyway and getting an extra boost of pride from being capped is unlikely to change things.

At 30 a call-up might seem unlikely, but I would not rule it out. If Arsenal have a very good season and compete well in the Premier League and the Champions League, more attention will fall on our Spanish metronome and it would not be completely surprising to see him drafted into the national squad.

Putting my Arsenal-skewed self interest aside I sincerely hope that it happens because he deserves it as a player and as a man. Yes, there would be a risk he would come back to us injured or tired – but we have that risk with the vast majority of our players anyway. And it would be a crying shame for such a fine player to end his days uncapped.

Do you agree?

And can you think of previous Arsenal greats who never got capped by their country (Geordie Armstrong springs to mind, and I’m pretty sure that Nigel Winterburn only got a single England cap).


Rioja vs Barolo: a preview from an Arsenal perspective

July 1, 2012

In Saturday’s Guardian, there is a fantastic picture of Iniesta surrounded by five Italian players, literally encircling him in order to somehow get the ball of him. Straightaway, it reminded me of a very famous painting by Henri Matisse: ‘Dance’. In the artist’s picture, the dancers are naked and there is nobody in the middle.

Iniesta is the kind of player who can escape such a circle of top quality defenders and midfielders in a flash – leaving them behind like emperors without clothes. “When he has the ball, it’s like everything else stops”, says Torres – “He knows exactly when to release it [the ball], and he holds it so long, inviting pressure on himself and taking responsibility because, somewhere deep down, he knows that he is better than them”, says Guardiola.

Andres Iniesta is one of the finest midfielders I have ever watched playing football.

I have a similar admiration for the Italian ‘Quarterback’ Andrea Pirlo, although they are a different sort of midfielder. As I described in a recent post, he is the sort of player who, with brilliant simplicity, can totally control a game: an absolute joy to watch.

To be able to see them both again today, fighting for the second biggest football prize a nation can win, is simply mouth watering.

This evening’s Euros final between Spain and Italy promises to be a feast for the eye. The only potential blot could be the southern European nasty tendency to cheat, or the sickening waving of imaginary cards for opponents.

The two best teams have made it to the final, and this is the fourth time in the history of the Euros that the finalists have met already in their opening game of the tournament – bizarrely enough, every time with exactly eight years between them.

I don’t know about you, but I cannot watch a game that does not involve Arsenal without making a reference/comparison to/with our beloved team. Today’s game will give us a great insight into what sort of football we could be playing in the next few years.

Yesterday’s brilliant tactical post by Sagar Tarkhadkar highlighted clearly that nobody can tell with absolute certainty which formation and style of football Arsene will opt for next season. With the purchases of Giroud and Podolski, and Wenger’s announcement that he wants to play these two with RvP up front – and this combined with potentially more player purchases and hopefully the return to full fitness of JW and Diaby – it really is hard to tell what he is going to do next. Very exciting times lay ahead of us!

Today’s finalists represent two styles of football which have a fairly strong connection with the way we play currently, and have played in our recent past. I don’t really want to go into a deep analysis of formations, as we have done that yesterday. I feel we could be on the crossroad here between going some distance towards the Spain/Barca way, or towards a formation not too dissimilar to the way Italy is set up.

Are we going towards a style of football similar to Spain’s tiki-taka, with the purchase/introduction of a classic DM, who sits in front of the back four, and play a boxing-in/pressing football, high up the pitch, with two attacking midfielders in front of him? With the purchase of two more typical strikers it is now highly unlikely we will ever play anything like 4-6-0 or 4-5-1, but Arsene could be working on his own variant again of something similar to ‘tiki-taka’ football.

Or are we going to stick to our 4-2-1-3/4-3-3, or even move towards MickyDidIt89’s preference of Italy’s current 3-5-2 formation?

It all remains to be seen.

The thing is formations are not everything: you also really need a lot of good players, and a few great players, to make it work.

Iniesta is a great player and he is surrounded by a number of very good/great players. The likes of Xavi, Busquets, Alonso, Silva and Fabregas are the reason the tiki-taka football is played at such an incredibly high level. Ok, it has not been as good this tournament as it was during the WC, but nevertheless we are still watching, from a tactical point of view as well as individual skills on display, phenomenally good football – even though it might not always be a pure joy to watch. Some of the key players lack form and seem fatigued which has an impact on the quality of their overall football at the moment.

Pirlo is also a great, great player and he is surrounded by a number of very good, if not great, players too. The likes of De Rossi, Marchisio, Cassano and especially Montolivio are fantastic to watch, and the enigmatic Super Mario has potential to be absolute world class. I like the look of this Italy side, and would not mind at all if Arsenal were to be set up in a similar way – and I think we have the right sort of players for it.

Both teams have a decent to good defence and an excellent goalkeeper, so it will be the battle of midfield and how clinically the teams are in front of goal, which are likely to make the biggest difference tonight.

This final will be a clash of two styles of football, and I will be watching it with the likes of Wilshere, Song, the Ox, Ramsey, Coquelin, Arteta and Diaby in mind. I will be fantasising about how they could play for us in next season’s campaign, and how the formations and style of football on display could work for us.

I am sure the game will give us plenty of input for further analysis for days to come, but let’s hope it will live up to its promise and not be spoiled by unsporting-like behaviour.

Will it be Barolo or Rioja which ends up on top? I have a feeling the latter might turn out to be corked.

If you are watching, I hope you’ll enjoy the game.


I hate the French but like sizzling hot redheads

June 24, 2012

I need to open with a couple of points of clarification. I hate the French for not beating Spain, and the bit about redheads was only lobbed in to garner hits.

Now I have to admit that due to other commitments, I only watched ten minutes of the France-Spain encounter, however, I was bored rigid. If the Spanish pass, pass, pass, pass, pass game is any way the apex or ultimate variant of the Barca Style, then I want “out” now.

When we at The Arsenal play our intricate little passing triangles with 70% possession, while camped in the final third and the opposition with the bus firmly parked, quite often the most exciting moments of the game are when said oppo. break free and counter.

Back in the day, when DB and TH graced the hallowed green meadow at Highbury, we would power away up field from defending a corner with such electric pace and fluidity that the opposition would be transfixed like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

By all means let’s hog possession, but can’t we do it lower down and save the high line for taking the mick once we are two up after ten minutes.

Look at the times we were undone at home last season, by whom, and playing what system?

What I will now call the “Sparca Style” lacks pace, expansiveness and above all excitement. It has become, to my bright eyes at least, a bus parky variation. Simply, they are parking further up the road.

The only times we get to Ooo and Ahhh during Barca play is when we witness moments of magic from a Messi or an Iniesta. What I’m saying is, would those moments simply be magnified if played at high speed and in wide open spaces.

“This is rubbish” I said to myself while watching my whole ten minutes. It’s like a game of pass the bloomin’ parcel where the host Mum has left the cd playing and buggered off outside for a fag or two.

What I am saying is let’s mix it up. Not long ball, but just remember it’s a long pitch so let’s use it.

Oh, and who I am I kidding, I really do hate the French (I had a wee bet on the soap dodgers to win), and I also do like sizzling hot redheads (although “did like” would be slightly more accurate).

Written by MickyDidIt89

Its not over, its just begun ……..

July 10, 2010

As the World Cup draws to a close I find myself thinking how much of a disappointment its been as a competition. It reaches its climax this weekend, with only one certainty, that there will be a new name on the trophy.

Holland v Spain means that Arsenal fans can take their pick whom to support with one of our players in either squad.  RvP is certain to start – barring an injury –  but Cesc has not started a game so far, although he has contributed briefly  as a substitute a couple of times.  That system has got Spain to the final so I doubt it will change.

But what a strange World Cup it has been, performed in stadium’s sounding as though they were full of swarming bees as the vuvuzelas droned continuously to what the commentators disingenuously called the beat of Africa.  I have heard nothing like it in several visits to that beautiful continent and I fear, had I been there this time, I would have lost patience and done something naughty.

The big stars didn’t turn up, Messi, Rooney, Ronaldo where were they, were they playing? Had they played too much? Was there too much pressure? Were they bored? Something tells me there will be the mother and father of enquiries as to why and what went wrong, immediately the final whistle blows.

No doubt it will include the need for more help for officials, overwhelmed by a game now so fast as to be beyond the power of any referee or assistant to keep up, as emphasised by the England goal that wasn’t. Big changes in that department will certainly happen, whether it is Mr Blatter’s extra guys behind the goal or technology or a mixture of both we will have to wait to see

Goalkeepers: have you ever seen so many goalkeeping errors in a single tournament? Was it the thin air of altitude or the ball maybe? I suspect just rank bad goalkeeping is nearer the mark. Whatever the reason, which keeper would you advise Arsene if asked, to sell the crown jewels to buy? Did any really impress?

The Arsenal players have not covered themselves with glory either and with the exception of the two named above have all seen their sides fail to impress and are off for early holidays. Lets hope we see some benefit from that.

In the case of the French the failure was spectacular, another suitable case for Mr Blatter, and his French friend, Michel Plattini to launch an enquiry into. Bit near home for Michel that one and the repercussions should be fascinating.  I wonder if that had been England what they would have done.

For me the dark side of the whole affair has been the despicable ‘Barça sideshow’ choreographed to unsettle Cesc. My biggest disappointment is the way so many Arsenal fans have bought into it. Given Barça’s proud record in recent years with Arsenal players, I would have thought we would just have called a  ‘plague on all their houses’ and got on with our lives instead of fuelling the fires of discontent and doing the Spaniards work for them.

The most recent comments from Cesc and Xavi in relation to the World Cup and returning home to their respective teams suggest that ‘the battle for Cesc’ is over for this summer at least.

So, on Sunday I will watch the game knowing no matter who wins it’s Barnet at the end of the week, Arsène will be back to add a couple more signings and then the real stuff is soon under way.

Its going to be a Gooner year.

I can’t wait.

Written by dandan